NHL says staff amenities might re-open in Might, 24-team playoff format reportedly favored

The NHL season stays on pause as a result of COVID-19 outbreak however there’s purpose to be optimistic in regards to the league’s possibilities of resuming within the subsequent few months. Based on TSN’s Frank Seravalli, the league despatched a memo to gamers and groups on Wednesday saying that issues might decide again up someday in Might.

Based on the league’s launch, groups might start re-opening amenities and coaching in mid-to-late Might, barring any sudden setbacks. That timeline is contingent on coronavirus tendencies persevering with in a optimistic course. Gamers stationed exterior of their membership’s house metropolis may quickly start returning however, for now, they’re being informed to stay in isolation.

The league has reportedly been focusing on a late June-early July window for once they can resume aggressive dates, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman saying they would wish at the very least three weeks of coaching camp earlier than that restart. The mid-to-late Might entry into Part 2 would seemingly hold that timeline intact. 

The league supplied a public assertion on Wednesday night time.

“Despite numerous reports and speculation over the last several days, the NHL and the NHLPA have not made any decisions or set a timeline for possible return to play scenarios,” mentioned the NHL and NHLPA in a joint assertion. “Given recent developments in some NHL Clubs’ local communities, we are now looking ahead to a Phase 2 of the transition period that would follow the currently recommended Phase 1 period of “self-quarantine” by Gamers and Hockey Employees.

“The exact date of transition to Part 2, throughout which Gamers would possibly return to small group actions in NHL Membership coaching amenities, stays undetermined. Nevertheless, supplied that situations proceed to pattern favorably – and, topic to potential aggressive issues as between disparately located markets – we consider we may have the ability to transfer to Part 2 in some unspecified time in the future within the mid-to-later portion of Might. Particular pointers governing Participant and Hockey Employees exercise could be supplied at the moment. Within the meantime, we anticipate Gamers and Hockey Employees to proceed to stick to the advisable pointers put in place when the season was paused on March 12.”

And whereas there’s nonetheless loads of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus and its tendencies, there’s additionally loads of uncertainty surrounding what a doable NHL restart might appear to be. The league nonetheless has loads of particulars to determine earlier than it probably resumes play. 

The NHL is reportedly prioritizing enjoying the common season (most groups have round a dozen video games remaining on their schedule) to some form of conclusion earlier than beginning a postseason. If that’s the case, it is doubtless the league would wish to play an abbreviated or altered format for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Latest reported proposals have included 4 league cities (presumably unfold throughout the US and Canada) enjoying host playoff “tournaments.” Based on Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, the most well-liked concept amongst gamers is a 24-team playoff format:

The High 6 groups from every Division meet in a single metropolis. They might open with best-of-three sequence between the No. 1 and a pair of seeds (to resolve a Division winner), whereas No. three meets 6 and four meets 5 for the correct to maintain enjoying.  

It is a daring concept that might reward lower-level groups in weaker divisions. With the present standings on the pause, the proposed format would open up postseason bids to groups just like the Anaheim Geese (.472 factors share) and Buffalo Sabres (.493) whereas shutting out the New York Rangers (.564) and Chicago Blackhawks (.514).

There appears to be growing optimism that playoff hockey will likely be on the horizon this summer season however it’s rising more and more clear that it will not be the standard postseason hockey we’re used to.

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